Bay Area Jiffy Lubes, Firestone face suspension due to fraud accusations

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Dozens of Bay Area Jiffy Lubes and one Firestone store will have their registration suspended for five days because of accusations of fraud. (KGO-TV)

Car owners, listen up. Dozens of Bay Area Jiffy Lubes and one Firestone store will have their registration suspended for five days because of accusations of fraud. They also face fines and probation under settlements that state regulators revealed today.

ABC7 News was first to report on two major undercover investigations by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

One operation focused on Jiffy Lube franchise stores owned by the Fanticola family. Agents posing as customers say they found a pattern of fraud at those stores around the Bay Area.

"To try and get the vehicle and the consumer to do a repair on the car that wasn't even necessary," said Pat Dorais with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

RELATED: Agents allege pattern of fraud at dozens of Bay Area Jiffy Lubes

State documents show the stores sold a range of unnecessary services, adding as much as $240 to the bill.

Under a settlement with the state, 31 Fanticola-owned Jiffy Lubes, including stores in eight Bay Area counties, will be suspended for five days.

That means they can only perform minor services not regulated by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

The Fanticola franchise is also being fined $220,000 and will be on probation for three years.

"Fraud is always a very, very big concern for the bureau because that's actual theft from consumers," said Bill Thomas with the Auto Repair Enforcement Division..

The second undercover sting focused on Firestone stores. Agents say one at Southland Mall in Hayward tried to sell unnecessary services ranging from $70 to $2,600.

The state settlement in this case also calls for a five day suspension.

Twenty-one other California Firestones, including six in the Bay Area, will be on probation for two years. They were accused of selling, but not installing, important safety features on new tires.

RELATED: 7 Bay Area Firestone shops accused of fraud

Firestone is also being fined $83,000 to cover the cost of the investigation. All the suspensions go into effect July 14. Both Firestone and the owners of the Jiffy Lube stores declined to comment on the settlements.

We did receive a statement saying the Fanticolas are in ongoing discussions with the bureau about the allegations.

The statement from Fanticola operated Jiffy Lube franchise known as M.C. LLC says:

"M.C., LLC is currently working with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) on these pending allegations. It is premature to comment on the matter further because the discussions are ongoing."

Bridgestone, the company that owns Firestone, refused to do an interview - but sent the following statement:

"Bridgestone Retail Operations owns and operates more than 2,200 tire and automotive service centers nationwide. Each day, our 23,000 employees work hard to earn the trust and loyalty of our customers. At Bridgestone, we have no greater business objective than to ensure our customer interactions are guided by honesty and integrity."

"Bridgestone was notified by the California Bureau of Automotive Repairs ("BAR") as to certain deficiencies found to exist at some of our Firestone Complete Auto Care locations. In response, Bridgestone immediately launched an extensive internal investigation and shared our findings with BAR. Bridgestone subsequently implemented appropriate corrective actions and refined operational processes, including additional training for our employees, in an effort to continuously improve the level of service we provide to our customers in California and nationwide."

"We are grateful for the guidance provided by BAR and the opportunity to address the deficiencies. Bridgestone is pleased to report that all of the Firestone Complete Auto Care locations in question are operating in full compliance with BAR requirements and guidelines."

The state documents involved can be found by clicking here.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.

Related Topics:
automotiveinvestigationfraudlawsuitbusinessauto newscaliforniasafetydrivingHayward
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